Baby Steps in Serving Families

By Janet Earle, Children's Minister

Posted on October 3, 2017

I recently had the opportunity to attend ‘KidMin 2017’, a large Children’s Ministry conference in the US. I have to admit it was pretty amazing to be with almost 2000 people who were passionate about supporting children and their families in growing in their Christian faith.

Canadians are often proud of the cultural differences between ourselves and our American neighbours. But at the conference, I sometimes felt like that awkward cousin who isn’t cool, and just doesn’t have things figured out. There was a passion and clarity about ministry to children and families in the air, that made me a bit envious.

Family Ministry was one focus of the conference. Church leaders know that we might be given just one skinny hour each week to try to help shape children in their faith. Families on the other hand have perhaps 50 hours a week with their children. This time is filled with a wide variety of activities that will help form them for their lives. But do any of these activities help them grow as followers of Jesus?

Serving families in a large multi-cultural city is tricky. They are busy, bombarded by social media, and raising their children in complex and rapidly changing times. How can the church help? Send more emails and texts? Schedule events? Provide tools and materials for faith conversations at home? There are no simple answers.

I once read of some advice from a parent regarding the ‘take-home’ papers that are sent from church with the children each week. They suggested that recycling bins should be provided close to the door! Clearly some of the things that well-meaning church leaders are doing, are not helpful to families.

As God prepared to establish a covenant with His people, He began by calling one man. God said to Abram (before he was given his more distinguished name): “Leave your native country, your relatives, and your father’s family, and go to the land that I will show you.” (Genesis 12:12) The problem was that Abram wasn’t given any map or GPS. He had no idea where he was going. He went in obedience, trusting in God’s promise. The truth is, that we don’t always know where we are going, even when we are serving God. We seek to travel in the direction that God sends us.

At the conference we were told, ‘Don’t go home and do nothing. Take a baby step.’ This is my baby step! I am looking for new ways to build relationships with our families. I don’t believe that there is a one-size fits all method for Family Ministry at St. Paul’s. I do believe that I have been told ‘to go’ and find new ways to support and connect with our families, as we seek to make disciples of Jesus together.